The impact of preparing mentor teachers for mentoring

Year: 2012

Author: Ambrosetti, Angelina

Type of paper: Refereed paper


Time spent in classrooms is reported to be the component of a teacher education degree that pre-service teachers highly value as it allows them to practise teach in an authentic setting (Brandenburg & Ryan, 2001; Brett, 2006; Graves, 2010; House of Representatives, 2007; Walkington, 2005a).  Despite this, the experiences pre-service teachers encounter vary greatly and can be directly related to their placement and the mentor teacher to whom they are assigned.  In the move from a supervisory model to a mentoring model in pre-service teacher education, the assumption was made that mentoring would assist in resolving the variance in experiences pre-service teachers encounter during their professional placements. However, it has since been found that those who volunteer to mentor a pre-service teacher may not inherently know how to mentor another.  In this respect mentor teachers may not understand the complexities of the nature of mentoring, the roles of mentors and mentees and how mentoring occurs in the pre-service teacher context (Ambrosetti & Dekkers, 2010). In an environment where mentoring and supervision are intertwined, a lack of confidence on the part of mentor teachers about how to provide worthwhile experiences for pre-service teachers will remain, if mentoring is neither defined, nor a process of mentoring provided (Hudson, 2004; Walkington, 2005b). This research investigated the role of professional development in the preparation of mentor teachers for their mentoring roles.  Specifically, this paper presents the findings of a pilot mentoring preparation course which focused on the nature of mentoring, the role of both mentors and mentees and the process of mentoring. Data was gathered about changed understandings of mentoring, as well as the changed mentoring practices of the mentor teachers who participated. As such, the findings presented will inform the development of further professional development courses for mentor teachers who intend to mentor pre-service teachers.